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"a train of reflection" [VALL]

The world's largest collection of new Sherlock Holmes stories is on its way to being realized. The Kickstarter campaign for the collection assembled by MX Publishing has just over a week left before it concludes, and we're continuing to give some of the 64 participating authors a chance to reflect on their involvement. This is the second installment in the series (you can read part 1 here) in which I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere will publish the answers of two questions that we asked each author:
  1. Tell us a little bit about your story without giving too much away. Where and when does it take place? Why did you choose that time for your story?
  2. Why did you want to contribute to the anthology?

 Here are the responses from the participating authors in chronological order by the time their story takes place:

Will Thomas

The story I wrote was set in 1889, during Holmes and Watson’s early career. The duo is full of energy, and the adventure is more of a schoolboy lark compared with the more somber stories after "The Empty House." The mystery is classic early Holmes, and I can picture the original readers of the Strand Magazine puzzling over the clues. The setting is Tunbridge Wells because I have always been interested in those stories which take place in the south of England.

I have been a Sherlockian since I was seventeen. When I first joined a local scion I was the youngest member by about twenty-five years. Now I’m the same age as most of the members.

Being the founder of the Bartitsu Forum on Yahoo, I considered bringing Holmes’s martial skills into play, but the pair of them were still so young I decided to have them tossed about by a character in the story instead. Presumably, this is what made Holmes feel he needed a little more training.

Ann Margaret Lewis

In my story, "The Affair of Miss Finney," Sherlock Holmes solves a brutal case of rape, and Mrs. Watson (Mary Morstan) is a huge help. I chose this time period because I wanted readers to see more of sweet Mary. She was special to Watson, so I’d hope she’d be special to Sherlock fans.

Besides my love for Holmes, I have a son who is special needs (Autism spectrum), so aiding a project for kids with special needs is close to my heart. I hope we can make Undershaw and Stepping Stones a load of cash, so they can preserve the past, and make sure those kids have a future.

Vincent W. Wright

The title of my tale is "The Adventure of the Bookshop Owner" and is a classic Holmes-style mystery. It revolves around the murder of man who owns a small bookshop in north London. A fresh, young Inspector brings the case to Holmes, Holmes contacts Watson (who is married and in private practice) for his faithful assistance, and they attempt to settle some of the peculiarities of the case. The whole affair turns out not to be as straightforward as they all at first believed.

The case is set on the evening of July 1, 1890, and is wrapped up shortly after. Being a chronologist I knew I had to try and place it somewhere that would not conflict with other cases. This is nearly impossible to do, but I did find a small opening in 1890. I had already decided to have it occur on the 1st of July, so it all worked out in the end.

When I was contacted to possibly write something for the anthology I was somewhat taken aback. I had never written a pastiche, and was not a big reader of them. I took a day to consider it, and finally decided that it would be fun to give it a shot. I was flattered and honored to be asked as it was my presentations and papers on Holmes and Watson that had caught the ear and eye of the editor. I wrote 1500 words the first day, lost them all in a computer mishap, and started all over again. I was stunned at how fast the story came together. It was quite enjoyable. After some major rewrites and a few character changes it all came together. I have numerous people to thank for their assistance, and others to give a nod to for their encouragement. (They all know who they are.)

I love being a part of this project, and look forward to learning about the benefits it reaps for Undershaw and Stepping Stones.

William Patrick Maynard

My story is "The Singular Case of the Unrepentant Husband" and concerns a friend of Mrs. Watson who believes she is being haunted by her late husband's ghost. The story takes place in London in the 1890s. I wanted to set the story after Holmes' return both for the advances in technology near the turn of the last century and the opportunity to portray the changes in Holmes and Watson's relationship. Too many writers favor the 1880s for classic Holmes and Watson. I wanted to take a slightly different approach.

This is the third Holmes anthology I've had the honor to contribute to, and since I principally work as a continuation author for Sax Rohmer's Literary Estate, it is a pleasure to pay tribute to the author and characters that were the greatest influence on Rohmer's work. Additionally, when an editor invites you to contribute a story to a Holmes collection, one has an obligation to try their very best to deliver something that is hopefully worthy of the name. There will never be another Conan Doyle (or another Sax Rohmer). All of us merely try to pay tribute to their genius and their immortal creations.

Matthew Booth

The story is called "The Verse of Death."  It is set in 1890 which, I think, is the ideal era for Holmes, because it is a time when he is at his peak. Watson is married and living away from Baker Street. He calls on Holmes one afternoon, and his visit coincides with a visit from Inspector Lestrade, who is investigating the murder of a retired financier who has been murdered in his bedroom. There are no means of access to the room – the door is locked and the windows all fastened. Holmes is initially uninterested, and he dismisses the case, but he alters his view when Lestrade tells him that prior to the murder, the victim had received threatening messages in the form of macabre poems which foretold his violent death…

I wanted to write as traditional a Holmes story as I could – I have always felt that the purpose of a pastiche is to continue the trend of the original. So, with something like the Holmes stories, I think you have to approach it as though the story you are writing has been compiled from notes which come from the same battered tin dispatch box as the originals. It has to feel authentic, and it should be able to stand between two original Holmes stories without a casual reader being able to see the joint. Otherwise, what’s the point? It was important to me to try and make it sound as authentic as possible, whilst retaining the same elements of mystery and Gothic romance which make the best of the original Holmes stories so endurable.

I think it is an ambitious and exciting project. I am a writer and a lifelong Holmes fanatic and the opportunity to contribute to such an important collection of new Holmes stories was too good to miss. I like the idea of a collection which spans the entirety of Holmes’ career, and the notion of three volumes covering specific periods of his life is a good one. It allows something for everyone, which is not always the case with collected anthologies of this type.

But it is not simply having the opportunity to contribute to a new series of Holmes stories (which is of course always a welcome thing). There was also the added incentive of the cause behind it. The preservation of Undershaw is an important project and being asked to contribute to it by doing something which I love was a request which was impossible to turn down. I think the caliber and the number of writers who agreed to participate is testament to the passion for (and the importance of) the cause. I think it’s something of which everyone involved with should and will be proud.

J.R. Campbell

My story involves the theft of some skulls and is set in London at a time when skull collecting was a (relatively) new hobby. Since the internet, any Londoner with a credit card can plop a skull on their mantle and call themselves a collector, but things were different back in the day. If pressed, I’d say the tale was set in 1895, but then, when pressed, I always answer 1895. While I understand the urge to set out definitive time lines and such, I can’t say it’s a passion I share. Minds more clever than mine can schedule it where they like; I’ll not argue.

This is where I’m expected to say good things about the Undershaw Preservation Trust, certainly a cause worthy of any compliments I could send their way. Although the banner under which this anthology rides is good, for my part, there are a number of writers in the company with whom I am very excited to be sharing pages with. Some, like Bob Byrne, Peter Calamai, and Matthew J Elliot, I’ve had the pleasure of working with before. Others, like Christopher Redmond, Bert Coules, and Lyndsay Faye, I’ve admired from afar. And there’s always the pleasure of discovering new favorites. I’m looking forward to reading all three volumes of this collection.

Robert V. Stapleton

The story: In the early spring of 1891, with Sherlock Holmes out of the country, Professor Moriarty is bored. Breaking with his usual habit, he is tempted into taking part in hands-on criminal activity. This includes the theft of plans for a steam-powered flying machine. The timing of the story is important because it ties in with a genuine machine that was built, and may well have flown, in France in the autumn of 1890.

The motivation: This story was originally written for another project, but I was then invited to submit it for possible inclusion in this anthology. Because of the timing of the story, it dovetails neatly with Conan Doyle’s other stories of Sherlock Holmes.


"The Glennon Falls" is a story about Professor Moriarty. On the eve of his rendezvous with Holmes at Reichenbach, he's thinking about his childhood tutor, a lower-class Scottish woman who dares to challenge him intellectually. I wanted to look at the formative events of Moriarty's life, and suggest that while Holmes is Moriarty's greatest adversary, he wasn't the professor's first.

Hopefully, the stories find receptive readers, and hopefully, the anthology raises some money to support a cultural landmark.

Jeremy Holstein

The bulk of my story takes place during the Great Hiatus, when Holmes was presumed dead. It mainly focuses on Doctor Watson, and how he is dealing with both Holmes being gone and his wife's illness. A chance encounter with Inspector Lestrade leads to Watson being invited to help investigate a case, and the story progresses from there. I chose that particular era as I enjoy bringing Watson more into the spotlight. He is usually overshadowed by Holmes.

Why participate in the anthology? Because David asked me to! Honestly, it was very flattering, and for a good cause to boot. His timing was, of course, terrible as I was in the midst of preparing a stage production of Charles Augustus Milverton for the Post Meridian Radio Players (we do Sherlock Holmes productions every summer,) but I couldn't say no. The lure of contributing to an anthology alongside other pastiche authors, many of whom I know and admire, was too seductive to pass up.

Bill Crider

My story takes place in early 1894 when Holmes isn't officially in England, and maybe he's not officially in the story, either. It's based on an actual historical event, so that dictated the setting.

It seemed like a great cause, and I wanted to be part of it.

Peter Calamai

My pastiche takes place during The Great Hiatus and is set in Ottawa, the capital of the then relatively new Dominion of Canada. I choose the time because then Holmes was free to travel across the Atlantic, although under an alias. It was also a time when Irish renegades in the United States, known as the Fenians, were engaged in trying to undermine the Canadian government by force.

I choose the place because I know it well and had researched that time period.

The question isn’t why did I want to contribute to the anthology but why wouldn any admirer of Arthur Conan Doyle not want to contribute to the preservation goal? Also I was eager to have some pastiches set in Canada. And I enjoy writing in the prose style of that era, and believe that I do it well.

Lyndsay Faye

My story is set just after Sherlock Holmes returns, in 1894. He hasn't yet interacted with Inspector Lestrade apart from the brief arrest of Colonel Moran, and Lestrade comes to Holmes and Watson with news of a grotesque murder--a man without a mark on him was found entirely drained of blood. But something much more personal seems to be irking the inspector, and for Holmes to solve the crime, he has to not only unravel the bizarre mystery, but deduce why his old friend from the Yard is displaying such uncharacteristic animosity towards him. "The Adventure of the Willow Basket" is more than a crime story--it's a story about forgiving friends and allies when they've been forced to make terrible choices.

I contributed to the anthology because not only is Undershaw a great cause, but it's amazing to be a part of the biggest Sherlock Holmes anthology ever! That's historic, and as a rabid Sherlockian, I couldn't miss the opportunity.

Marcia Wilson

The adventure is set in two separate time periods, opening after the Great War and moving to the late 1890's after Sir Henry returns from his Constitutional. Ever since The Hound of the Baskervilles was published, Holmes and Watson have been plagued by a hungry public to go back to Dartmoor and tell the stories they believe should have happened. I was thinking of poor Conan Doyle, and any writer who is urged to keep milking a story long after the story has ended. So, in a way, that's a tribute to all writers. I got the idea, strangely enough, from Keye Luke's Charlie Chan. Solving a case backwards isn't nearly as easy as it sounds because you have to be twice as careful! It is even harder when no one else knows what in the world you're doing!

I like to use the melting pot diversity of England, and this was my best chance to use two unusual beasts: female naturalists, and the Onion Johnnies of Brittany. There was an innate closeness with the traders that appealed to me, and a tip of the pen tribute to Conan Doyle's scripted comment of Mortimer noting a sense of attachment in the Celts. Mostly, I like the idea of an ill Holmes fooling an ailing Watson into distracting himself into writing down one of the stories he has withheld for a long time--in the beginning Watson is writing about his aches and pains in his memory, but by the end he's forgotten them. In the wake of the Great War, Holmes chooses to let Watson write "it" up because it will give the public something to think about.

Lastly, Stapleton's moth to me was one of the biggest loose ends in The Hound of the Baskervilles. A brief look into the world of moth collecting and you'll see some amazing stories about the men and women who dedicate their lives and souls to the furtherance of insects. There are not a few crimes involved!

Why contribute to the anthology? David Marcum always has good ideas! We've often commiserated over the difficulty in finding good solid Canon out there--by which we mean not just a Sherlock Holmes adventure based on the books and set in Victorian or Edwardian times, but where characters besides Sherlock Holmes are treated with respect. Here, I can show the strengths of Watson and Lestrade--they know they can trust him even if they haven't a clue as to what he's doing...again. There's more than just trust when they demonstrate they can let Holmes be his strange, unfathomable self: they show that they know he gets results and he knows what he's doing.

With David's vision, I saw everyone had a chance to raise the bar on pastiches and show there are creative ways of fundraising for worthy causes. I don't want a brick with my name on it--I want Undershaw to continue on in this fresh new way much as my Sir Henry is re-creating Baskerville Hall in a fresh new way. The idea of writing for a charity like Undershaw...well, who wouldn't jump at the chance for something like that? In a way I see these stories as the ultimate fan letter to ACD. How many times has Holmes done something on behalf of the underdog? These stories show the positive ways he has affected us.

Bert Coules

"The Saviour of Cripplegate Square" is the script of my original BBC drama, commissioned as part of the Further Adventures series, the sequel to the world's first complete dramatised canon. It opens in the sitting-room of 221B on a stormy winter's night: rain beats against the windows, the wind howls in the chimney, the fire crackles in the grate, and Sherlock Holmes is in the mood to tell a dark tale of his earliest days as a detective.

In general I was careful not to be too specific about the dating of any of the Further Adventures, but this particular story's mood of reminiscence and revelation seems to sit nicely with the time of Holmes's reappearance from his wanderings and Watson's return to the old Baker Street rooms, twin events which Sir Arthur himself pins down exactly; so - newly dated specially for this collection - the year is 1894.

I went to Undershaw many years ago, soon after I started work on the BBC's complete canon. I explored the rooms, walked through the garden, sat in the summerhouse, absorbed the abundant atmosphere and expressed my fervent hope to the lingering spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle that I wouldn't disgrace his creations and his memory. I want to feel that any future writers who find themselves embarking on a similar task will have the opportunity to do as I did.

Mike Hogan

Most of my Sherlock Holmes stories are set in the early days of the friendship between him and Doctor Watson, which gives me a chance to explore their contrasting characters and have a little respectful fun suggesting Watson's understandable exasperation with his friend's eccentricities. Living with a man who conducts smelly experiments in the sitting room, pockmarks the wall with revolver rounds and encourages street Arabs, Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars, to drop by barefoot can't have been a bed of roses!

But I needed to set my story of the lady on the bridge at a time after the premier of Oscar Wilde's 'The Importance of Being Earnest' as that play figures prominently in the plot. I chose the mid-nineties and I was able to include telephones, the Kinematograph, and the newly-completed Tower Bridge.

At the time of my invitation from David Marcum to contribute to an MX anthology, we had in mind a much less ambitious project than the amazing three-volume compendium that has grown from his and Steve Emecz' original conception. I'm very proud to be part of that extraordinary effort, to be in such distinguished company and to make a small contribution to the renovation and maintenance of Undershaw.

Carl Heifetz

The story takes place in 1895, a time when great discoveries are made in the area of bacteriology and infectious disease. It involves a sickness among members of the same family and has all of the hallmarks of a mini epidemic. Fortunately, Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes are there to save the lives of the sickened individuals and solve the nature and source of the illness. At the end, they are able to bring two feuding brothers together in a family reunion.

I am always happy to write about my hero Sherlock Holmes. Over the years, from 1984 to 2010, I have published pastiches and treatises in independent Sherlockian journals. As a microbiologist, I have focused on Mr. Holmes’ use of “the method of scientists” to solve his mysteries. Also, I have been interested in enhancing the infectious disease aspect.

In 2013, I finally published a novella, The Voyage of the Blue Carbuncle as an homage to both Sherlock Holmes and my other addiction, Star Trek. The book has received excellent reviews. As a big fan of Arthur Conan Doyle, MD, I felt impelled to turn my talents towards helping preserve his beautiful estate for future generations.

Dick Gillman

"The Man on Westminster Bridge" is set, as one might expect, in Victorian London. It is a story of despair, greed and carefully crafted revenge.

What is it that drives a man to try to take his own life? Holmes witnesses such an attempt as he crosses the Thames at Westminster. Fortunately, Holmes is on hand to literally pull the unfortunate fellow back from the brink of the abyss… and so unfolds a new case for Holmes and Watson.

The story revolves around a small gambling syndicate at Bairstow’s, a Gentleman’s club in Westminster. The seemingly impossible luck of one particular member, Major Tobias Cooke, is such that a scandal threatens to engulf the club and ruin some of its members.

After a visit to the club by Holmes and Watson, young Wiggins provides the intelligence Holmes needs to bait a trap. Holmes delights in ‘setting up’ an unsuspecting Watson as a carefree gambler with money to burn. All that is needed now is a little Dutch courage for Watson and a pair of white, opera gloves for Holmes to work his magic!

I particularly wanted to contribute to the anthology for two reasons. Firstly, I thought it would be a privilege for me to have my story included in a work that has so many great authors of the genre. It is a showcase for my work, and I was so pleased that my story was accepted for Volume 2 by editor, David Marcum, who has worked tirelessly on the project.

Secondly, with my close links to education, I thought that the donation of the royalties from the sale of the books to help a very special school was inspired. Undershaw should be preserved and brought back to its former glory. It is a piece of our British literary heritage and should be as revered as the homes of other great writers.

These three volumes from MX are a unique collection. I saw it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of something that will benefit both our current and future generations.

Carole Nelson Douglas

I wrote a poem, not a story, about a character and relationship frequently written and sung about and filmed in the Sherlock Holmes universe. It takes place in the mind of Sherlock Holmes and is called "The Bachelor of Baker Street Muses on The Woman."

I read and reread the Sherlock Holmes stories as a child, and Holmes and Watson have never left my life and work. In my all-girls' high school, I imported them into an assigned skit I wrote and performed. (I was short, so I had to be Watson in an eyebrow pencil mustache.)

As a daily newspaper reporter, I had 35 inches to fill on deadline with a subject who'd barely uttered a word. I turned his reticence into a case for Holmes and Watson to solve, and the story won the top journalism award in the state.

As a full-time fiction writer, I wondered why no women had written a spin-off Holmesian series or used a woman from the Canon as a lead character. My Irene Adler series was the first, and the first novel, Good Night, Mr. Holmes, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has contributed so much to my pleasure and imagination. Saving and restoring Undershaw is the least all of his readers and literary beneficiaries can do, especially with its new mission for learning disabled children.

That concludes this week's spotlight article. In the next installment, we will post the responses from the authors in the third and final volume of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.

If you would like to be entered to win a copy of the three-volume anthology, here's how you can qualify:
  1. You must be subscribed to our email updates; AND
  2. You leave us a comment below describing why you're excited about this new anthology.

One winner will be selected at random from all entries. Drawing will take place on Wednesday, August 19, 2015.

And don't forget: the Kickstarter campaign will be active until Sunday, August 16, 2015 at 6:59 pm EDT. There's still plenty of time to pledge and get your copy of all three volumes before they are available to the public.

Editor's note: Please note that Will Thomas's story actually appears in the first volume of the anthology.